When Can I Get My Second Booster Shot?

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Key Takeaways

  • Bivalent COVID boosters are expected to have wide eligibility and be recommended for everyone.
  • The Biden administration has already secured more than 170 million doses of updated vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna.
  • Rollout will begin after Labor Day.

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended the inclusion of Omicron BA.4/BA.5 components for reformulated COVID-19 booster shots, the Biden administration has been busy securing enough vaccine doses for deployment in September.

Early reports from The New York Times indicate updated boosters will be available to all Americans 12 and older shortly after Labor Day.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense has secured millions of doses of this new, variant-specific style of booster, referred to as a "bivalent" vaccine. Specifically, the government has 105 million doses of a Pfizer bivalent booster and 66 million doses of a Moderna bivalent booster.

As of this week, both companies have submitted their updated booster candidates to the FDA for emergency use authorization. Pfizer's bivalent booster is intended for ages 12 and up, while Moderna's is only for adults.

The bivalent booster will work against the original COVID-19 virus, plus the Omicron family, including the spike protein for BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Since bivalent COVID-19 boosters expected to roll out soon, it's unlikely the FDA and CDC will expand who is eligible for the existing, regular booster. Right now, only select individuals meet the criteria for a second booster:

  • Adults aged 50 years and older
  • Individuals aged 12 or older who are moderately or severe immunocompromised
  • Recipients of two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Here’s what you need to know if you’re waiting to get your second booster shot.

Bivalent Boosters May Have a Wider Eligibility 

While the final say on who will qualify for bivalent boosters is up to the CDC, they’ll likely be widely available.

“I believe we will have a general recommendation for everyone—all ages—to have the bivalent booster this fall,” David J. Cennimo, MD, FACP, FAAP, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told VeryWell. “I do not think the booster will be limited to ages above 50 and immunocompromised.”

Based on the current guidelines, these bivalent boosters may be recommended at least five months after the previous vaccine dose, whether it’s from the primary series or an earlier booster dose, he added. 

“In my work, we are already making plans to role out this type of booster at the same time we are offering yearly influenza vaccine,” Cennimo said. “We believe the CDC will let us give them together.”

Why Boosters Matter

Booster shots have been available to all adults since November of 2021. That means that except for the 50+ crowd or immunocompromised folks who've been able to get second boosters, many Americans haven't received bolstered COVID protection in nine months.

It’s important to widen the eligibility of booster shots so that more individuals can enhance their fading protection. Some research shows booster protection against Omicron wanes three months after the shot.

“With new COVID-19 cases still at around 130,000 a day and with well over 400 deaths a day, we need to continue doing everything possible to decrease the spread of this virus,” Mark Loafman, MD, MPH, a family physician and chair of the Family and Community Medicine Department at Cook County Health in Chicago, told Verywell. “For the foreseeable future, that means boosters for all.” 

Rolling out new interventions such as the bivalent vaccines usually starts with a triage process to prioritize the first available doses to those who will benefit the most, but the goal will almost certainly be to get everyone boosted, he added.

Should You Delay Your Booster Shot?

The general public may expect the bivalent vaccines to be available beginning in September.

“The U.S. has contracted for about 170 million doses, with proposals in the works for as many as 600 million,” Loafman said. “With numbers like that, we should be able to get a dose to everyone who is willing by late fall or early winter.”

Those who are eligible for a second booster shot now may be wondering if it’s better to get it now or wait for the impending bivalent booster. Experts said this is a difficult situation, but ultimately, it’s better to get the second booster now if you are already eligible.

The decision depends on an individual’s risks of serious illness with COVID-19, exposure risks, and timing of any travel, Loafman said.

Cennimo hopes pending federal guidance will allow anyone who recently received an original booster to additionally get a bivalent booster as soon as it's available.

“I hope the recommendation will allow us to truncate the five months wait between doses, because I do think the bivalent booster will be better,” he said.

What This Means For You

If you are eligible for a second booster now, don't delay and get boosted already to improve your protection against the Omicron variant. Otherwise, start gearing up for a September shot.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA recommends inclusion of Omicron BA.4/5 component for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA expands eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

  4. Lyke KE, Atmar RL, Islas CD, et al. Rapid decline in vaccine-boosted neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variantCell Rep Med. 2022;3(7). doi:10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100679

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker.

By Carla Delgado
Carla M. Delgado is a health and culture writer based in the Philippines.